Maybury Material Handling, one of the largest, most successful material handling companies in the Northeast, now has over 80 employees and is a distributor for approximately 1,300 manufacturers. Supplying virtually all types of material handling equipment (including many ergonomic and productivity enhancing products) customers range from large manufacturers to small family-owned businesses. A diverse product line, knowledgeable personnel, and an emphasis on safety combine to make Maybury a recognizable leader in the material handling industry.
Quality Snack food thanks to Hytrol Integration Partner WEPCO
Utz Quality Foods, Kindig Lane facility, Hanover, PA said that food safety means distributing nothing but product in every bag of potato chips, pretzels, cheese curls, tortilla chips, popcorn, and party mix. From its modest beginning in 1921 until today, Utz production has grown to millions of pounds of snacks each week in their four Hanover, PA manufacturing facilities. From the adjacent World Distribution Center, product is shipped via Utz’s distribution network to retail customers from Maine to the Carolinas, including big box and warehouse companies such as Wal-Mart and BJ’s.
As the volume of products shipped increased, so did Utz’s concern about ensuring the integrity of every bag of snacks. “Food safety became an issue for us,” sad Jeff Fuhrman, vice president of engineering. Utz needed a way to ensure that products were completely free of foreign contamination.
WEPCO, Inc., in collaboration with Hytrol Conveyor Company, equipment suppliers, and the customer, devised the solution using new X-ray detection and innovative automation technology. The system conveys finished cartons through an X-ray system which detects the proper product weight and quantity of each SKU. The X-ray step improves both food safety and product quality. Fuhrman explained, “We are looking for foreign objects, missing product, seasoning conglomerates, and incorrect weights. DC managers are alerted when the X-ray system rejects a carton so employees can correct and reintroduce them into the system prior to the X-ray detector.”
WEPCO is known for its innovative way of solving material handling challenges. Working with Hytrol, they devised a way to solve Utz’s food safety problem and improve product quality, and streamline operations, free up DC floor space, and improve productivity. Chris Paulsen, CEO of WEPCO, Inc., explained. To preserve available floor space, chose to elevate much of the conveyor systems, even locating the X-ray equipment on a structural mezzanine leaving the floor below for the palletizing operation. And for clean, quiet operation above the packaging floor, utilizing Hytrol Conveyors E24EZ low voltage powered roller technology.
WEPCO’s innovative thinking also significantly improved productivity in the Utz facility. Previously, product was cased and palletized at the end of each packaging line, then transported out to the warehouse. Now, cases (or individual jugs) are transported by conveyor to a central palletizing operation located just after the X-ray machines in the warehouse. It was this kind of inventive thinking that originally convinced Utz to award the contract to WEPCO. Paulsen asserts, “We competed for this project against several very capable system integrators. We were told that, although we were not the lowest bidder, we had the most cost effective and innovative approach.”
Each carton packed in production receives a bar code label containing product, customer and shipping data. The cartons accumulate onto one of eight Hytrol E24EZ conveyor lines and are elevated 17 feet by eight impressive United Sortation System hi-speed vertical reciprocating lifts. They are then merged onto a main conveyor line, conveyed around a 90-degree curve onto a mezzanine, and delivered to the X-ray detector. The bar codes of the cartons have already been scanned and product SKU information sent to the X-ray, which detects proper product weight and quantity for each SKU. “If incorrect conditions are detected, the case is rejected into a contaminated lane, an over/underweight lane, or a failed bar code read lane. The system captures an image of each carton, making it easy for employees to identify which package in the carton has a problem,” Fuhrman said.
Cartons that pass correctly through the X-ray system descend on a spiral conveyor through a bar code reader, then onto a Hytrol two-sided narrow belt sorter which diverts cartons onto one of 14 gravity-sort lanes, as determined by bar code. Workers waiting at the end of these gravity lanes palletize the cartons by hand.
For the Utz facility, there is more automation to come. The company intends to add automated case packing and palletizing and six additional vertical lifts in the near future. Fuhrman says, “We’ve set up the infrastructure for a totally automated system. And the Utz company intends to install systems similar to this in its other manufacturing plants. “Our food safety goal is to X-ray every product. This has been a huge help.”
Century Conveyor and Hytrol Conveyor Drives
Employee Productivity Increase by 20 Percent at Recycle Inc.
When Recycle Inc. had the opportunity to design a new container processing plant from the ground up, an automated conveyor system was high on the list of priorities. Company managers wanted to replace a largely manual handling operation with a conveyor-based approach that would be both more efficient and safer.
Based on the new facility's first few months of operation, they were right. Employee productivity climbed 20 percent just in the first week of start-up. Throughput projections predict that the new plant will process four times as much material as the old plant did in the same amount of time and with the same number of employees. Jeffrey Bey, President of Recycle Inc., cited several reasons behind his company's decision to switch to automated handling. "Essentially what we are is a manufacturing operation," Bey said. "We use one process to wash and prepare containers that will be reused, and another process to shred or granulate containers that are to be destroyed.
"Our incoming 'raw materials' are the containers themselves. These containers — especially the larger ones — tend to be unwieldy, and some of them are fairly heavy. In the past, we handled the containers manually at a number of points during processing. Given our throughput requirements, we had the potential for accidents, and our approach wasn't very efficient. As demand for our services escalated, we knew that we needed to come up with a completely new way of handling containers — one that would take advantage of the benefits offered by automation."
After the company located a suitable building for a new facility in South Plainfield, New Jersey, Bey assembled a project team to study new materials handling methods. The team contacted several nearby conveyor distributors for design ideas. According to Bey, some distributors balked at the idea of getting involved in up-front design work without first being assured that they would get the job.
Bey said, “We were looking for a distributor and a conveyor manufacturer that would partner with us on this project." Fortunately, the local Hytrol Conveyor distributor, South Plainfield-based Century Conveyor, didn't hesitate to tackle the project. Working closely with the project team, representatives from Century Conveyor, from Hytrol, and from a nearby automation firm designed a conveyor system that combines powered conveyors with smart sensors and custom software. At every decision point in the system, sensors supply feedback to the control program on the movement of individual containers, on the performance of the conveyors, and even on the maintenance requirements of the sensors themselves.
The company's switch to automated conveyor systems has produced a much higher throughput capacity without requiring an increase in the workforce. At the company's old processing facility, employees did a lot of the handling of incoming containers. The plant did have a conveyor system in place, but it was a single straight-line design that simply transported the containers from one workstation to the next. The old conveyor system did not include any powered transfers or spurs.
The design of the new conveyor system at the South Plainfield facility greatly reduces the amount of manual handling by relying on automated conveyors to move the containers. The new plant inspects and cleans 5- to 85-gallon polyethylene containers and intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) for reuse. In addition, it also provides certified destruction of 5- to 85-gallon polyethylene, steel, and fibre containers, and of IBCs.
Incoming containers are transferred from trucks to one of four takeaway conveyor lines. Based on their composition, disposition and on whether they will be prepared for reuse, the containers are carried by the conveyors to several possible destinations. Containers that are to be reused are conveyed to an inspection loop where employees evaluate their condition. Powered roller conveyors then carry the containers that have passed inspection to one of three fully-automated washing stations. After washing and another inspection, the containers are ready to be returned to their owners for reuse. All of these containers are captive within a closed-loop system between their owners, customers, and the South Plainfield plant.
Conveyors carry steel containers to a shredder; the scrap metal that is generated goes to electric mini-mills to be made into reinforcing rods for use in concrete construction projects. Polyethylene containers are ground into pellets which are then sold to be made into various
corrugated plastic products including plastic drums. The fibre containers are conveyed to a workstation where they are broken down prior to being supplied to a paper mill for recycling.
With the exception of the belt conveyors that carry materials to waiting trailers, nearly all of the conveyors used in the new system are powered roller. Strategically-placed accumulation sections control the grouping of the containers prior to being transferred to workstation infeed conveyors. "This new system is enabling us to process 80,000 containers per month with almost no manual handling," noted Bey, "and it has the capacity to handle a lot more. So in addition to being far more efficient and having a much greater throughput capacity, we now also have a facility that's substantially safer for our employees."
Incoming containers are loaded onto four takeaway conveyors in the receiving area. The containers are conveyed either to inspection and washing, or to shredding or granulating. The containers that are to be reused are delivered to their owners after being washed; materials from destroyed containers are hauled to recyclers to be made into other products.